There’s plenty of days where all I crave is an iced chai tea latte, and many of them occur on days when I’m at home. With luck, there’s a recipe I know for a homemade version of the iced chai latte, as well as a slightly different recipe to make it into a hot drink.
This popular drink is quick and easy to make and my latte recipe tastes almost identical to Starbucks’ chai tea latte. As delicious as their product may be, it has a higher amount of sugar than any traditional Indian version of a chai tea beverage, so I like to control that in my homemade chai latte- all without sacrificing that sweet, spiced tea taste! Though, what is a chai tea latte exactly?
Please note that this post may contain affiliate links and any sales made through such links will reward us a small commission – at no extra cost for you.
What Is A Chai Tea Latte?
The word chai translates to “tea” in Hindi, so it literally is called a “tea tea latte” if you’ve ever heard that version used before; it may also be referred to as a masala chai latte, meaning “spiced tea” latte. Traditionally, masala chai in India is made from scratch, uses whole milk, and sweetens the cups of chai with an unrefined cane sugar known as jaggery.
For my latte recipe, chai tea bags are used, whose main ingredients are a blend of black tea leaves and warming spices, which include cloves, black peppercorns, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, star anise, allspice, and nutmeg.
Worldwide, tea lovers may use another kind of milk, such as skim, 2%, soy milk, almond milk, or even other dairy-free options like oat milk and coconut milk. Aside from getting to use your favorite milk, there’s room for even more personalization, as this drink also internationally is sweetened up with cane sugar, honey, brown sugar, or maple syrup.
Lore dates masala chai’s origins back thousands of years as having been created and used as Ayurvedic therapies in ancient Indian royal court, but in those early years, caffeine and black tea leaves had yet to be introduced to the drink. Once British-owned tea farms in India had their black tea crop incorporated into local recipes in the early 1900s, masala chai began picking up in popularity.
Nowadays, chai tea lattes are enjoyed throughout the western world as well, but they still remain a favorite drink in Indian cuisine, with street vendors, otherwise known as “chai wallahs” or tea persons, busily filling customer orders daily.
Preparing masala chai traditionally also involves boiling the tea and different spices in hot milk and water, but a chai tea latte specifically adds a concentrated blend of tea to steamed milk. While there are caffeine-free chai tea bags available for purchase out there, black tea gives an iced chai tea latte a bit higher caffeine content, but it differs from that of a regular latte because it doesn’t call for a single shot of espresso.
How To Make Homemade Chai Tea Concentrate
Making this homemade drink is simple, and in some ways, it’s even good for you. In order to drown out the bitter taste of many of those chai spices in the chai tea bags, you’re going to have to prepare the perfect balance of a latte concentrate, which is far less intimidating than it sounds and requires minimal tools.
Storing the homemade chai tea concentrate can be safely done in any containers that can have an air-tight seal, and the concentrate will keep for one week in the refrigerator. You will need one cup of water, 2 chai tea bags, and 1-2 tablespoons of maple syrup.
- To start, begin boiling the water in a small saucepan.
- Remove the pan from heat. Being cautious of the hot water, add the tea bags. Pour in the maple syrup. Cover with a lid and let them steep for 10 minutes.
Tip: If you’re looking for more of a vanilla chai tea latte flavor, you can also add one or two teaspoons of vanilla extract. It is possible to add a shot of espresso too for a dirty chai latte featuring an extra boost of caffeine.
How To Make An Iced Chai Tea Latte
Now that you’ve got your concentrate, you’re going to also need 1 cup of milk (the Starbucks chai tea latte recipe uses 2%) and one cup of ice cubes. I’m an iced coffee drinker, so when it comes to pouring my chai tea lattes over ice, it reminds me of feeling like I’m excitedly waiting for my beverage at the local coffee shop.
Only I know I’m totally having more fun making my own recipes for homemade lattes! An important step is frothing your milk, which can be done over the stove in another small pot or using a milk frother or French Press.
- Once at room temperature, pour the concentrate over the ice cubes.
- Over medium heat, heat milk to 150 degrees Fahrenheit by checking with a food thermometer. If using a stovetop, whisk vigorously until you see foaming. If using a French Press, pump for one minute.
- Pour foam over the chai tea concentrate and enjoy! Sprinkle with cinnamon for garnish (optional).
Tip: To make this without ice, simply don’t wait to mix the two mixtures together to ensure the chai latte concentrate hasn’t fallen to room temperature.
As a huge latte fan, there’s many times I’m itching to switch it up, and you can achieve so much variety by playing with what ingredients you’re grabbing during the next time you have chai tea.
Of course, what is a chai tea latte without its indulgent, frothy milk foam? Skip the pumpkin spice latte and try this, because if you like pumpkin spice, you may also take a liking to the warm chai flavor.
Are Chai Tea Lattes Good For You?
Considering some types of chai tea bags contain caffeine, it is always good practice to enjoy a trip to the nearby coffee house or a homemade chai tea latte in moderation. A majority of the calories found in an iced chai tea latte are going to be from the sugar or concentrate used to sweeten it, and in fact, grande Starbucks chai tea lattes have some 240 calories with a whopping 42 grams of sugar!
That’s why for my Starbucks copycat recipe, I make my own homemade chai concentrate that contains far less amounts of sugar because I use the natural sweetener, maple syrup. I believe it lifts the chai spices nicely as well as keeps it sweet, because what is a chai tea latte without its “candied fall” taste?
Packed away in those little chai tea bags also lie some health benefits amongst several of the spices used. Take for example ginger, one of the most commonly found spices in chai teas, is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that is rich in flavor and fragrance which, with help from antiviral and antibacterial properties, enhances the immune system response.
Star anise and cinnamon also offer medicinal value in aiding in healing from the flu, inflammation in the respiratory tract due to bronchitis, regulating digestive issues, and easing symptoms of insomnia.
It is crucial that you do not accidentally buy Japanese star anise from the grocery store, which is inedible and poisonous when consumed by mouth, and instead utilize Chinese star anise. Additionally, allspice has been linked to relief from upset stomachs, menstrual cramps, and menopause symptoms.
Up next: Matcha Green Tea Latte
Did you make this chai tea latte recipe? If so, let us know in the comments below!
Copycat Starbucks Chai Tea Latte Recipe
- Heat water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, remove from heat and add tea bags. Let steep for 5 minutes.
- Add in maple syrup to a coffee mug and pour in tea mixture.
- Optionaly, add a dash of cinnamon and top with star anise.
- If you want to adjust the sweetness, add less than 1 tbsp of maple syrup and adjust from there.
- Cinnamon and star anise are optional but add a kick of sweetness and spice and are reminiscent of true Indian flavors.
- What does a chai tea latte taste like? It’s a combination of spice and sweetness. It can be compared to a very subtle pumpkin spice latte, but way better in my opinion!